Advocates call for school chaplains to affirm LGBTIQ+ students

National LGBTIQ+ advocacy group just.equal are calling for more funding for professional and non-religious counsellors, and LGBTIQ+ inclusive training for school chaplains in the wake of this week’s budget announcement.

just.equal have raised concerns over the National Schools Chaplaincy program, which will receive $61.4million per year for the next three years, despite the lack of professionally-trained non-religious counsellors available to Australian students.

“Schools have a duty to support and protect all students, including LGBTIQ students who repeated studies show endure higher levels of stigma, discrimination, bullying, and early school leaving,” says just.equal spokesperson Rodney Croome.

“Many students who want to talk privately about their sexuality or gender identity would avoid a chaplain, given historic atttiudes of the churches to LGBTIQ people, and there is also no assurance a chaplain would give appropriate counselling in these situations.”

“We call on the state and federal governments to fund more professional, non-religious, school counsellors and to ensure all support staff, including chaplains, have the training they need to affirm LGBTIQ students.”

“In Tasmania in 2014, a number of successful workshops training chaplains in LGBTIQ issues were conducted by Relationships Australia with the support of the Scripture Union.”

“Initiatives like this must be upscaled to all chaplains in all states.”

Croome said the absence of bans on LGBTIQ+ conversion practices in most states made the situation worse.

“In most states there is little to prevent an untrained, unqualified, school chaplain encouraging an LGBTIQ student to consider informal conversion practices.”

“While informal conversion practices remain legal it is all the more important that LGBTIQ students have the option of a professional, non-religious counsellor and that chaplains have training.”

OIP Staff

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